Arsonist sentenced to prison for setting fire to 2 occupied homes

SE Mass

NEW BEDFORD, Mass. (WPRI) — A New Bedford man convicted of arson will spend nearly four years behind bars, according to Bristol County District Attorney Thomas Quinn.

Quinn said Jose Debrito, 33, pleaded guilty last week to two counts of arson. He was charged with setting fire to two houses just hours apart in October 2017.

“The defendant engaged in very dangerous conduct that could have led to serious injury or death by igniting fires to two occupied multi-family homes. Fortunately, no one was injured. I am pleased the defendant accepted responsibility for these serious criminal acts,” Quinn said.

The fires were reported roughly seven hours apart overnight between Oct. 11-12. The first one, called in around 8 p.m. on Oct. 11, was set at a home on Myrtle Street. The second, called in around 3 a.m. the next day, was set at a nearby home on State Street.

In both cases, Quinn said Debrito was seen on surveillance video in the area of the fires on a bike. Prosecutors said a neighbor also reported seeing him leaving the scene of the first fire.

Quinn said both fires were lit by gasoline against the back of the houses. No one was injured in either incident.

While executing a search warrant at Debrito’s home, police found the bike seen in the surveillance videos, a butane torch lighter and fabric softener bottles that tested positive for gasoline.

After Debrito is released from prison, he will be placed on supervised probation for an additional two years.

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